Episode 19 - Review, Musings, and Catch Up




  •  Japan “doesn’t seem to be as magical”
  • Klint as the Napolean Dynamite of globalization
  • Chris’s noticings in Tokyo
    • Less iPhones, more Phablets
    • Electronics market had so many types of wearables
    • Lots of little technologies -- usb legwarmers, usb cigarette lighters
  • Nike flagship store -- nothing but fuelbands
  • Klint’s new short story “The Faraday Bag,” published in Membrane Anthology
  • Arnon Grunberg in the New York Times
  • Klint muses on writing
  • Tech entrapanuers revive communal living 
    • "We're seeing a shift in consciousness from hyper-individualistic to more cooperative spaces”
    • "What I liked about space was the idea of creating human settlements"
    • "It's given me personal freedom. When you can live and work unconventionally, it becomes easier to succeed"
    • Master room kept for parents
    • Not always for young people
    • Tech billionaires will live there and see what startups are doing
    • Not everyone is startup people
  • Amazon delivery drones 
    • Human drones at Amazon may be all replaced by robots in next few years
    • Amazon did pretty good job at diverting attention from Amazon worker perils to futuristic vision


Visions: Unusual competence in discernment or perception; intelligent foresight


  • SXSW  - March 7-16, 2014 Austin, TX (POSSIBLY SEE KLINT AND CHRIS PRESENT) 
  • Cyborg Camp - MIT Media Lab - August 2014 - Boston, MA
  • Buddhist Geeks Conference - October 16-19 2014; Boulder, CO



CD:    Welcome to Mindful Cyborgs Episode 19. Hey Klint, it’s Chris. How are you doing?


KF:    Hey I’m doing good. I haven’t seen you since Defrag. How have things been for you?


CD:    Traveling. I spent some time in Tokyo and some time in Australia. What’s that song “I’ve never been to me”? It’s like an old 70s song. I’ve been less than mindful. So, I’m hoping to get back in my Mindful Cyborgs body today hanging out with you.


KF:    Great. Great. Well, how is Japan?


CD:    Japan was pretty amazing. I spent some time there when I was 20. So, it’s been 25 years since I’ve been to Japan and it was really beautiful. I was surprised by how much more English as far as the lettering you could actually do Roman lettering, not Kanji. When I was there, when I was 20, you couldn’t read anything. It felt like you were in another planet, and Harajuku was more commercial and less kind of trendy. So, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just getting jaded. Didn’t seem as magical.


KF:    Well, yeah, I mean it’s globalization mono-culture all that stuff.


CD:    And you say it the correct way globalization mono-culture. It’s like you’re the Napoleon Dynamite of globalization it’s globalization. See, I feel better already.


KF:    We do whatever we feel like. Gosh!


CD:    Well, that’s it I’ll be Pedro.


KF:    Well, I’m wondering though Japan’s kind of known for being ahead of the curve at least in terms of like mobile technology especially so I’m wondering if you had any observations about how people interacted with their technology over there.


CD:    Yeah, I did watch a lot of that. The first thing I noticed was I didn’t see anybody kind of like living on their smartphone as much as I notice it here. I purposely looked for it. The other thing was there were a lot less iPhones and lot more just outrageously I guess phablets we would call them. So, I saw more people carrying phablets than kind of iPhones, iOS devices.


KF:    Interesting.


CD:    The electronics market which is like this big section in town. I can’t remember how to pronounce it right now was pretty amazing. So many different types of wearables. I knew wearable computing was kind of a big deal, it’s kind of buzzy but I had no idea it was so big over there and the other thing was they have lots of little technologies like little silly things just USB leg warmers and just anything you can plug in it’s available.


KF:    I know they’ve got USB cigarette lighters in China.


CD:    Yeah. So, that was really interesting. Just like here everybody was doing selfies everywhere. I think probably the most profound thing I noticed from a tech culture commercial globalization standpoint was we passed the Nike flagship store in [00:03:24]. I think that’s in Harajuku and the front window was nothing but a big FuelBand picture and I said oh, let’s go in because I’ve never seen like a block long Nike store and we stepped inside and the very far back wall they probably had 30 different shoe styles.


    The rest of the next 100 foot of the store were all clothing but the front half of the store was nothing but FuelBands. So, literally you could see the evolution of Nike’s, I guess, intent or their sales. Shoes were very, very small part of this flagship store. Clothing much bigger but physical space looked like an Apple store with nothing but FuelBands.


KF:    That’s really interesting. Every company’s a tech company now I guess.


CD:    Yeah. How about you? What’s going on up in Portland world and you’ve just released a new short story that you did under your Klint brand?


KF:    My first published fiction work something I’ve been working on for a few months just saw the light of day. It’s called the Faraday Bag. Did you get a chance to read it yet?


CD:    I got through I think the first two pages.


KF:    It was that bad huh?


CD:    I was that busy. Klint, if you remember, we don’t know what show number we’re on.


KF:    No, I understand. You’re probably still crazy jetlagged. So, anyways it talks about some of the themes we’ve talked about here like precarity and people kind of having to try to make a living off of apps like TaskRabbit and some other interest of mine like black market pharmaceuticals and the potential for 3D printers that print pharmaceuticals, some of that sort of thing.


    [00:05:01] is sort of a crime story near future sci-fi crime.


CD:    Wow!


KF:    So, it’s in the membrane anthology from Dreadful Café.


CD:    Nice. So, we’ll put a link to that in the show notes and people can download and read that or send it to their Instapaper or their pocket and be obsessed with why can’t I catch up with this or they’ll just consume it. Some things I just like consume real quick. We’ve got a quick kind of catch up show with little bit of news today and then we’re going to catch up with everybody in a few weeks with a couple of guests that we’re having on but for news I only had really kind of two things I noticed since we last chatted.


    One of them being this writer Arnon Grünberg who I think has actually might have been on Wired. I’m not sure. No. Where was it? Actually, it was New York Times. He is writing a book while he is connected to a bunch of sensors hundreds of sensors on his head, on his body and the book will be read by people wearing similar sensor. So, they have a bunch of volunteers to see if they can sync the feelings of what he wrote and what people experienced and I thought quite profound that we have almost a shared biological experience with the writing.


    It was on November 29th. So, just couple of weeks ago in New York Times. Thoughts?


KF:    That’s really interesting. I’d be curious to see what they find. I find the writing and reading are radically different experiences for me. So, I wouldn’t really expect the writer and the reader to really have synchronized experiences but I’m definitely curious to see how that plays out.


CD:    I’ve never written fiction. So, if you’re like typing out a scene, I’m sure a lot of our listeners maybe aren’t writers, maybe some of them aren’t writers, professional, but when you’re doing science fiction and you’re in a really dramatic scene, you don’t get excited or you’re just seeing it and typing how it feels almost like you’re a court recorder or how does that work for you?


KF:    Well, for me most of it . . . every writer’s different. I guess for me most of it is I already know what I’m going to write before I start typing it. So, by the time I’m trying to describe it, I think I’m a little bit more detached from the emotion of it and then the other thing to keep in mind is that. I don’t know what the saying is “75% of writing is rewriting” or whatever. Most of the time that you spend you spend on something is going to be revising it over and over again. So, I don’t know by the time you’re done, a lot of the visceral or emotional impact that you would expect to get from reading something is kind of worn off and you’re just sort of sick of reading the same sentence over and over again trying to figure out how to improve it.


CD:    That’s really interesting.


KF:    There are writers who don’t really know . . . I know that there are definitely a lot of writers who don’t really know what’s going to happen in a scene when they sit down and write it. I imagine that that would be kind of a different . . . they would be working in a very different state from me but I would still expect most of their time to be spent on rewriting and I would also expect . . . I would still expect like that feeling of sort of channeling creativity to be different from just reading it but again we’ll have to see how it plays out.


CD:    I know a lot of people who want to write. I would love to write more. I really enjoy writing and I don’t have a problem writing. I have a problem doing what you said rewriting. I just don’t want to go back over it I just want to like let it go as it is. I don’t care what people think about it. I just need it out of my head but I know a lot of people tell me I would love to write but it’s almost like they have to get everything done and I think what I hear you saying is you don’t. You just need to write and then go back and you can do a little itero steps.


KF:    Yeah. No one writes a perfect draft first time through, so.


CD:    Those of you who want to write maybe we should have a creative writing contest for Mindful Cyborgs 2014.


    The other story I wanted to bring up and I might have read this. I’m not sure. The tech entrepreneurs revive communal living. So, is this really kind of just profound story about some folks in San Francisco who are buying larger homes and buildings and instead of having kind of shared office space they have shared living space. The title was “Tech Entrepreneurs Revive Communal Living” and there are a few lines in here I wanted to share with you.


    First one is “We're seeing a shift in consciousness from hyper-individualistic to more cooperative spaces”. The second one was “What I liked about space was the idea of creating human settlements” within these homes. That’s me adding the “within these homes”. Another one “It’s given me great personal freedom when you can live and work unconventionally, it becomes easier to succeed.”


    Long story short these people take turns doing the household duties, the master room of these places are always kept for the parents who are visiting. It’s not always for young people. Sometimes it’s for older folks in their 40s or 50s who a lot of these tech billionaires will go live in these spaces and watch what some of these startups are doing and the other thing was not everyone in these kind of communal startup houses are startup people. They just might work in the city and they can’t afford to live anyplace else.


    What do you think about the revival of communal living?


KF:    It sounds nice but I think you hit the issue at the end is that a lot of that is probably being driven by just the insane cost of living in San Francisco that people end up living more like . . . people who you would expect to be living in like fancy condos or something are starting to live like people who are like fresh out of college or something and still just struggling to start a career or whatever.


    I like the idea of a more cooperative and less competitive society. I mentioned before it just feels like we’re in this state at least in the US. I don’t know how it is in other countries but it really feels like everything has gotten so hyper competitive.


CD:    So, yeah, I think anything that’s less competitive is a better thing for everyone and I think you just wanted to scratch the surface on something about Amazon. Did you want to talk about Amazon?


KF:    Yeah, the story about the Amazon delivery drones was really interesting because of the timing that it came during Black Friday when there was starting to be some press regarding the working conditions of the warehouse workers and how they’re more prone to suicide than most workers and then all of a sudden Jeff Bezos goes on 60 minutes or whatever and starts talking about flying robots however improbable that might be.


    What did you think about that? I know you were kind of interested in just the drones in of themselves.


CD:    Only because I got to experience Amazon Locker. So, the idea of not having something shipped to my home and having it put in a locker just amazes me. Their grocery delivery service really kind of smart, but yeah I don’t see a problem with flying drones for pizza or for packaging. Again, this is going to sound absolutely terrible there are some days I’d rather not see a human.


KF:    Yeah, there’s the issue there of like putting some delivery people out of work but the impractical thing is managing the airspace. So, a whole bunch of commercial drones flying around. That’s incredibly far off but regardless of that there are still just a huge number of workers in the warehouse that are being treated like drones at Amazon today. Maybe all their jobs are going to be replaced by robots in the next few years anyway but in the meantime there’s just people who are working in these dreadful conditions.


    Amazon did a pretty good job of diverting people’s attention from that over to . . . so they’re kind of sci-fi speculative ideas.


CD:    Well, between that and Google buying Boston Robotics.


KF:    Right. Right.


CD:    There is a lot going on for the Mindful Cyborgs. All right, Klint, very quick episode. Good to catch up with you and I guess I’ll see you next week.


KF:    Bye.


CD:    All right. See you guys next week.